University of Adversity
The year Arthur was born, the Great Depression began. Life had been difficult enough for the Crume family, but when the economy crumbled before their eyes, they found themselves in some of the most disheartening conditions in the history of the United States. The muddied fields, unpainted shacks and straggled fences were a constant reminder of their impoverished conditions. Like the Israelites in Egypt, they longed to be free from their crippling poverty.
American blacks were laid bare by being the last to be considered for employment and the first to be let go when a white person needed a job. Despite these bleak circumstances, Arthur was receiving a quality education through the “University of Adversity.” His wise heavenly Father wanted Arthur to be intimately acquainted with grief so he could empathize with others who were suffering. Seeds of mercy and compassion were being sown in his youthful heart while he labored in suffering fields. It would take several decades before Arthur’s life would produce a bountiful harvest, but his Father was patient and continued to work behind the scenes on his behalf.
Every morning except Sunday, Arthur’s family rose early, headed out to the cotton fields and worked until sunset. Like Joseph in the Old Testament, Arthur was a dreamer. His daydreams of living in the big city one day brought him some relief as he toiled in the unmerciful sweltering heat.
“Mama!” Arthur wiped the perspiration from his brow.
His mother continued to pick the cotton balls and stuff them in her sack. “Yes, Arthur.”
“When I grow up, I’m going to be a singer!” the young boy announced.
A grin tugged on the corners of Mama’s lips. “Is that right?”
Arthur looked down at the cotton balls still in his hands. “Yep, and I’m going to sing the perfect song.”
Mama stood and stretched her aching back. “You must be going to sing for the Lord then, because only His songs are perfect.”
When Arthur wasn’t singing, he was humming. It didn’t matter whether he was in church or in the cotton field. Music was in every fiber of his being. He sang until he developed a smooth, rich resonance to his voice. His dreaming continued, and he couldn’t wait for the day when preparation would meet opportunity, and his musical legacy would go down in history.